Freedom has become the ideal we are clamoring after, even and especially as the hardly-escapable demands of work ramp up, social pressures to present ourselves in certain ways and consume properly, whatever that may be, increase, and lives are being categorized and put into stereotypical boxes.
So, supposed shackles to places and people are seen as things to give up: For your freedom, you are called on to develop a nomadic lifestyle, ‘divorce’ friends and family who are not supportive enough, forget relationships in favor of friends with benefits, leave the 9-to-5, be yourself (but just in the same way as everyone else).
Of course, there are constraints that are negative.
Constant busy-ness may make you feel active and important, but it also prevents you from having to face the many things you are missing because you are so busy. Not least among them is the quiet of being alone with your own thoughts, which we apparently find ever harder to handle, in which “Why?” may finally get asked.
Many of the constraints we so fearfully try to get away from, however, are part of the reality simply of being alive, and hold the potential for more creative, extra-ordinary, living.
Cooking has become one terribly good example for necessary realities.
In being so equated with female subservience and household drudgery – or annoying food-porn self-actualization of Instagram-enabled foodies – it is either over-celebrated or completely avoided.
The simplicity and constraint that daily cooking would demand offers a chance for discovering ways of handling an essential element of life while contributing to greater health and energy, however.
The creativity would not necessarily lie in the craziest of combinations and the full range of ingredients from everywhere, let alone in kitchen appliances and gadgets galore, but in creating tasty meals out of a few things (local and seasonal ones if you are so inclined; cheap and nourishing ones if you don’t have much money).
A constraint to certain meal times could help combat bad junk food ‘grazing’ and, alongside a focus on naturally-realized flavor, could promote healthier eating of real food.
More flavorful and diverse real foods, prepared sufficiently well, are a great source of enjoyment, as well as good nutrition for optimal functioning, and cooking could well be taken as a practical lesson for most learning in life.
… and Time
Eating, especially including cooking, is already one of those things for which there is often said to be just too little time.
There’s a reason Silicon Valley self-development folks went gaga over Soylent to free themselves from the time it takes to cook (or purchase or re-heat) and chew and eat.
Cooking and eating, however, would be among those things that created civilization, are sources of enjoyment, and contribute to health and fitness, i.e. facets of life providing positive synergies.
Physical activity is another one of those points that there’s often seen to be just too little time for. Unfortunately (then), it is also a major factor in health and fitness, of course. But, it is actually a great source of fun, if only it is approached in a sensibly “mindfun” way, too.
So, again, if you have so little time for training, it is high time to think about the constraint in creative ways.
See if you can’t bring physical activity into your way to or from work. Or literally run some errands, to the supermarket or for some foraging.
Make a schedule, develop routines.
They are constraints, but ones that give necessary focus.
Decide what matters, too.
A stroll with your partner may not be training, but it is physical activity – as well as shared social time. Walks for discussing work may be a lot better than stultifying meetings sitting in stuffy rooms; there’s a reason philosophers were peripatetic
When I recently wanted to go out into the mountains but also had my wife want me to come back before she returned from work, I woke up earlier than usual, went out bringing along my things in my backpack, hiked instead of running, counted it as a different kind of training from the usual, stopped at one point to record a video review, and then slept on the train back home.
Not the plan, but a win all around, with work towards several goals getting done.
And that’s what goals are: constraints to certain things, but with plans for how to get there.
I hate to say it; I have always wanted to do more and learn more and be flexible, but:
Constrain yourself to only a few goals, but also constrain your schedule to include some fixed points in the week and/or the day when you work towards those goals.
Adding some work on a new interest or pursuit after having done some work on something interesting and necessary (and therefore, pre-planned) is quite alright, too.
But remember, in all the interest in projects and plans that are supposed to lead to some great success, that life (cooking, eating, relaxing, being physically active, friggin’ cleaning up) and family and friends are at least as necessary for happiness as progress on new pursuits and work.
Success is not just income or growth; it has to be ecological, considering several factors and ideally using synergies between them to really get to a new state that is better in several respects, not just in one respect while forgetting the destruction it is causing in others.
Reality is, there is only so much time in a day, and in a life, so you better constrain yourself to things that matter, and that matter to you in particular, before you end up being seriously constrained by circumstances – most of all, those of your own unconstrained and therefore undisciplined, energy-dissipating bad habits and the time of a life that slips away only too quickly, anyways.
Just don’t think of it as constraints that decrease your freedom when it is focus, discipline, and work, done in order to be able to be all the more creative.